Skip to content

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Blocked Tear Ducts: Causes in Adults - Topic Overview

In adults, blocked tear ducts, which cause tears to build up in the eyes, may be caused by one or more conditions. They include:

  • Thickening of the tear duct lining. The tear ducts may become narrow due to thickening, swelling, or inflammation of their lining. This is called primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction (PANDO) and is most common in women over the age of 40.
  • Nasal problems, such as:
    • An abnormal growth of tissue in the nose (nasal polyps), or tumors.
    • Excessive growth of nasal bones.
    • Misshapen bone (deviated septum) and/or cartilage (rubbery tissue that coats the ends of bones) that divides the nostrils.
  • Sinus problems, such as:
    • A severe sinus infection (acute sinusitis).
    • Complications after sinus surgery.
    • A tumor or other abnormal growth in a sinus.
  • Complications after surgery on the face, eyes, or sinuses, such as:
    • The repair of a broken bone in the face.
    • Surgery that changed the shape of the nose (nasal reconstruction).
  • A stone (lacrimal stone) that has formed within the tear duct.
  • A broken cheekbone that puts pressure on a tear duct.
  • Injury to the bones that hold and protect the eyes (orbits).
  • Infection that causes swelling and redness of the eyelid and surrounding skin (periorbital cellulitis). Infection may scar the tear duct.
  • Tumors or other abnormal tissue growths that block tear drainage.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 09, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Blocked Tear Ducts: Causes in Adults Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Woman holding tissue to reddened eye
    Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    eye
    Simple annoyance or the sign of a problem?
     
    red eyes
    Symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
    blue eye with contact lens
    Tips for wearing and caring.
     
    Understanding Stye
    Article
    human eye
    Article
     
    eye
    Video
    eye exam timing
    Video
     
    vision test
    Tool
    is vision correction surgery for you
    Article
     
    high tech contacts
    Article
    eye drop
    Article
     

    Special Sections